Ides of March …

Minnie Pearl – daughter of Minerva and my mother’s nickname as dubbed by her daughters – my sister and I – had the dubious pleasure of being born on the Ides of March. My sister and I took immense pleasure in this fact – thus, we always referred to her via her nickname. She pretended to be slightly annoyed and that was the icing on the cake for us…especially since our father joined in the festivity with ice cream and cake.

Minnie Pearl was a truly special person – not only to us, her children and grands but also to the children for whom she gifted the love of books and reading over her lifetime, during her tenure as a children’s and branch librarian. She was an avid reader, never without a book in her hands or tucked under her left arm – except probably when she slept or bathed or was engaged in an activity that required use of her arms/hands… I remember calculating once that she read, on average, a minimum of 25 books a week, in all genres, both fiction, non-fiction, for all ages. She was an inveterate reader. Full stop.

Mama – her other name <smile> – apparently learned to read at a very young age; she lived about 4-5 blocks from the local branch of the public library and there she would escape her three younger sisters and a wicked stepfather (not mother). She managed to read all the books in the children’s section by about age 8 and the librarians decided there was nothing left but the “adult section” and so they let her have at it! That sealed it! She was forever hooked – and that love for books and reading was transferred to us: my sister and me and the grands and great grands and I’m sure their children.

She was the church organist during her pre-teen and teen years: during those periods in between announcements, sermons, she read : the Bible, more than once; Greek and Roman myths; classics; and I don’t doubt, some “forbidden fruit,” aka adult novels. I suspect she kept the books sequestered among the musical scores.

Mama also had another favorite place to read : a tree outside her second floor bedroom window. She would lock the door and climb out into the tree and read. Her sisters and stepfather were most irritated, to say the least. Mama just smiled, read and ignored. I remember thinking when she shared this story how neat that was; oh, that I could have such an adventure…

These days, Covid-19 notwithstanding, I have nearly all the time – tho’ not the tree – in the world to emulate Mama, but perhaps not. Other demands for my attention seem to be winning. At the end of January, I did a rough calculation of the number of pages in my stacks of books to be read…then : More than 4000! And that number does not include digital, audio or those print titles I’ve since added either because I forgot to initially include or they appeared in my life screaming “choose me!”

Today’s agenda is full – but there’s room for me to take time to add more reading minutes into the schedule, e.g, as I eat breakfast, listen as I drive to my appointment and continue reading (with my eyes or earbuds if my eyes are dilated) as I wait to see the doctor.

I have shared many times that my secret desire is to be cloned – so much I want to do and were there more of me, well… but, since cloning is not an option, I guess my next best option is to implement practices I can do.

What’s on your to be read list?


12 thoughts on “Ides of March …

  1. That is a lovely photo of your mother, and I love the thought of her reading in a tree! That’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but the closest I came was when the girl next door invited me up into the treehouse her father built for her to read in. I’m currently reading The Island of Lost Trees and that would be the perfect book to read in a tree!


  2. What a great story about “Minnie Pearl” – thank you! I cracked up about her hiding the forbidden fruit in the music pages. Next up on my TBR – Kiese Laymon’s Heavy and The House of Broken Angels … both come highly recommended.


  3. What a lovely photo of your Mama … your Mama’s slightly shy smile hides what was clearly great determination and focus – I often think that a love of reading is the greatest gift we can bequeath to the younger generations. That’s a great thought that she might have hidden her ‘illicit’ reading inside music! I’m just about to start Louise Erdrich’s La Rose, having finished the fourth Inspector Ganache for some quick light reading (I enjoy her prose and psychology, but feel frustrated with the implausibility of some of the dénouement of the plots). Hoping you find time to squeeze in those few extra pages :).


  4. That picture is wonderful and I love the story that you have shared. I think I can see you in her eyes! I always wanted a tree for a reading spot but in Arizona, trees were not really abundant and the cacti were too prickly. I am on such a non-fiction run but I need some fiction to break it up a bit.


  5. The photo of your mother is wonderful. She has such a sweet delicate smile. I love the story of your Mama and her love of reading. I can just imagine her tucking a book in the music scores or inside the organ bench at church.


  6. I’m so happy you shared this story and photo, such a delight! I’m struggling to find the time to read one or two books each week! I’m reading a minimum of 10 pages a day NonFiction and am almost finished Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes and I have thoroughly enjoyed her story, humor, writing style and inspiration. She is a Badass Feminist! Next up are two books by Dr Edie Eger The Gift & The Choice. I listened to Brene interview her on Unlocking Us and just adore her and her story! Happy Reading!


  7. What an incredible tribute to your lovely mother! That photo is such a treasure! May your heart be overflowing with memories of her today!


  8. What a beautiful photo of your mother and an equally beautiful written tribute. Parents make such a difference in their children’s reading lives. I attribute my love of reading to my father, who was still reading aloud to me in my 40’s!!! I’m reading a new memoir, “Never Simple” and have five new books loaded on my Kindle for our upcoming trip which includes two very long flights.


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